This Sunday the last episode of the hit HBO show “Game of Thrones” will air
When Season 7 premiered, it hit an HBO-record viewership of 16.1 million. (By comparison, the deciding game of the 2017 NBA Finals was viewed by 25 million people, and the 2017 NCAAB Championship Game reached 23 million.) If you spend time on social media, you’ve likely seen someone—or, if your feed looks like mine, a lot of someones—posting about it. Because of its popularity, I decided to investigate the show further.
I’m going to warn you right up front about two things. First, I’ve never watch Game of Thrones—not a single episode. Second, if you’re a Christian who watches Game of Thrones, you’re not going to like this article. But I hope you’ll read it anyway. Not because I have special insight, but because God’s Word provides some clear warnings that we must consider.
For those unfamiliar, the show is based on the epic fantasy novel series, A Song of Fire and Ice, written by George R. R. Martin. One website[1] described it as follows: “Game of Thrones takes place on the fictional continents of Westeros and Essos in a setting that very much resembles the Middle Ages of Earth… While the story contains common fantasy elements, such as swordplay, magic, and fantastical creatures like dragons, those elements are downplayed in favor of political intrigue and human drama.”
While there are additional troubling aspects of the show, including consistent use of vulgar language and prominence of graphic violence, I’ve decided to focus on nudity and sex. This is partly because of the pervasiveness of nudity in the series, as well as Scripture’s clear warnings and commands. Important as well, while violence and killing can be “faked,” nudity cannot be. That is, these are men and women who are literally naked in front of a camera, actually doing what is seen on TV—in front of tens of millions of people I’d remind you. Once viewed, these things cannot be unseen.
So, what’s all the fuss about? What’s a Christian to do? If we don’t watch, we won’t be able to engage in water cooler talk, and people may think we’re weird. Should we, or at least can we, watch Game of Thrones? After all, we live in the “Age of Grace” and are no longer under the law. (See Romans 6)
Holiness is a consistent theme in Scripture. (See Lev. 11:44; Lev. 19:2; Deut. 23:14; Josh. 7:3; I Peter 1:15-16) It is not just a theme; it is a call of God for every believer, as God’s desire is that we be “holy and blameless before Him in love.” (Eph. 1:4) God’s Word is also clear that lustful and sexual thoughts are wrong. Christ himself said looking on a woman to lust after her is tantamount to adultery. Jesus even went so far as to say that you should pluck out your eye if it is causing you to sin! (Matt. 5:28-29)
In Game of Thrones, sex and nudity are prominent and ubiquitous. When reviewing’s “Parental Guide” about the show,[2] I was shocked and, frankly, embarrassed. The first episode of the first season includes all of the following: (1) a man in a brothel who engages in sex acts with a prostitute who is shown naked; (2) a man in the brothel is given three naked women; (3) another man disrobes his sister and inappropriately touches her; (4) there is “wild topless dancing” at a wedding; (5) two men fight for the right to have intercourse with a woman and then one does so in public upon winning; and (6) a man and woman engage in an incestuous relationship.
I remind you that this is just in the first episode of the first season! Throughout the series, there are numerous, graphic depictions of rape. In almost every episode, there is nudity of some kind and/or sex scenes. I do not believe it is an understatement to say that Game of Thrones has become infamous for its explicit nudity and rampant portrayals of sex. The command in Philippians 4:8 to think on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of a good report is diametrically opposed to consuming this type of sex and nudity. While it is true that we are free from the law, we are also warned that we must “use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh[.]” (Gal. 5:13)
When we intentionally engage in sin, we are rejecting the Cross and the sacrifice Jesus made “to redeem us from all iniquity, and purify [us] unto himself[.]” (Titus 2:14) We are letting sin reign in our mortal bodies; we are obeying the lusts thereof. (Romans 6:12)
There may be no clearer rebuke of sexual sin than Ephesians chapter 5. Writing to believers who lived in sex-crazed city that normalized things like temple prostitution, Paul warned that fornication and uncleanness (impurity) and jesting (crude joking) should not be named among them. (vs. 3-4) Not only were these Christians warned not to be partakers in these things, they were commanded to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness,” but, instead, to “reprove them.” (vs. 11) If “it is a shame even to speak of [sexual sins] which are done… in secret[,]” (vs. 12) what does that tell us about gleefully pouring this into our minds? When we, as God’s children, watch Game of Thrones, are we walking wisely, or are as fools? (vs. 15)
There are cases where Christians may disagree on what’s appropriate entertainment. This is not such a case. When we understand what Scripture has to say about lust, nudity, and sex and apply it to Game of Thrones, there is only one conclusion: Christians must say no. If I can interpret Romans 6:1-2 and apply it here, I’d say it like this: “What can we say? If we are living under grace, can’t we partake in a little Game of Thrones? No. For the sake of Jesus Christ, no! How can we, who should be dead to sin and alive unto God, live a life of consuming rampant sex, nudity, and graphic rape? We should not, and we cannot if we want to live a holy life that pleases God.”
Bryan Likins
Christian, Husband, Dad, and Attorney.
Indianapolis, Indiana